Ninth Circuit Postpones Its Own Ruling

Mar 10, 2003 02:13 PM EST

SAN FRANCISCO— The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has postponed its own ruling against the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools, March 4. The Court issued a 90 day stay on its own Feb 28 ruling that denied the reconsideration of the June decision that ruled the pledge’s inclusion of the phrase “under God” as a violation of the First Amendment’s ban on government establishment of religion.

In the original June case, Newdow v. U.S. Congress, Michael Newdow, a self-descibed atheist, challenged the rececitation of the pledge in the Sacramento County district, on the basis that it violated the constitutional separation of church and state.

The opinion was to take effect March 17 in the nine stated of the Ninth Circuit, but the court granted the stay at the request of the Elk Grove Unified School district to review the June ruling by the end of April.

The stay is "very good news," said Elk Grove School superintendent Dave Gordon. “We want to see the matter heard before the Supreme Court, and we want our children to keep saying the pledge as written until such time as the Supreme Court rules."

The Ninth Circuit Court, located in San Fransisco, declined to rehear the 3-panel June ruling as a 11-member panel, in its Feb. 28 order.

In addition to California, the states affected by the decision are Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. The Ninth Circuit Court is located in San Francisco.

By Pauline J.